A Reddit User Shares His Personal Experience Recovering From a Traumatic Brain Injury

It isn’t rare to know at least one person who has suffered a concussion, but it is less often you get to hear directly from someone who has suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and has worked their way back to a relatively normal life. On Saturday, Reddit user JrDot13 gave the social website that exact opportunity, when he invited members of the site to “Ask Me Anything” on the one year anniversary of the injury that put him into a coma.

On March 8th of 2013, JrDot13 was riding a bicycle with a friend when he was cut off by a car. He was told he hit the car going nearly 40 MPH, and was knocked instantly comatose and didn’t awaken for a month. On top of the brain injury, he also suffered a broken cheek, nose, and collarbone, as well as a separated shoulder and a collapsed lung. It took months of relearning to walk and function, but after a year the Reddit user is now able to live a fairly normal lifestyle, though he can’t drive.

We collected some of the most insightful questions and answers below (questions in bold, answers in italics), but if you want some direct insight into what recovery is like for a traumatic brain injury survivor I strongly suggest reading the full thread on Reddit. There are even some other TBI survivors that show up to give their own experiences as well. There is no better perspective on the issue than the words of someone who has lived through one.

At what percentage are do you think your functioning? Planning a full recovery?

Um…95%? I am completely independent now, in that I don’t assistance for any daily tasks. I can’t drive though, which can be annoying. I’ve made just about all of my recovery so far, my progress plateaued in September. I don’t have full mobility in my left arm because of the messed up shoulder, and a bit of tone in that arm. Also a little bit of spasticity in my left leg.

Was it like a “lights out, and suddenly it’s a month later” situation? Glad you’re doing better now, and happy anniversary!

No. My memory was awful when I woke up, and it’s still got some gaping holes from ~2011/12/the first couple months of 2013. I though I had gone to bed some night near xmas 2011, and now it was 2013. But it’s gradually filled in over the last year. I’m a very visual person, I’ll see something and be like “Oh yeah!” and a big chunk will flood back, I just need that trigger.

As a PT it’s good to hear about the cases that end well. Unfortunately i see a lot of patients who aren’t so lucky. How do you remember first waking up? It must be a lot to take in at once.

It was a lot. The first two weeksish after I woke up I wasn’t making memories yet so I don’t remember that all. Somehow though when I first started to remember I knew that I had been in a coma, I don’t recall any sort of “breakdown” like one would expect. It’s like your whole life gets thrown into a blender.

Was your personality (temper, impulse control, etc.) affected at all by the TBI?

Actually, no. Mentally I’m all here except for some memory loss. The year prior to injury is really foggy and patchy. And my short term used to better. But otherwise I’m the same albeit more mature. I wasn’t immature before, but I was thrust into a situation where I needed to be very grown up and self-controlled. I learned to how to deal with all my handicaps, and all of a sudden I had X amount of money to last 60+ years because I can’t work anymore.

Why exactly can’t you work anymore? Functioning at 95% is far higher than many people in the workforce.

LOL. My walking is far from perfect (as in I do not fill glasses all the way with liquid unless I want to spill), and I don’t have full mobility or strength in my left arm. I also have dysarthria and some short term memory loss.

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